It’s exciting to think about starting something new, and for many adults, that includes finally starting those martial arts classes they’ve always dreamed of taking. But, sometimes actually getting started is the hardest part. What was just a vague idea is suddenly a highly detailed flow chart of decision-making… or lack thereof.
As you look for a new martial arts school near you, it can be a bit overwhelming. In this article, you will learn some of the key questions to ask, both of yourself and of the schools you are interviewing — and yes, you should be interviewing several schools before making your selection.
How to Choose a Martial Arts School
For most people, the selection process starts with opening a web browser and typing in, “Martial Arts Schools Near Me.” This is a great starting point, and you will quickly get a feel for the options available.
But, making the right choice should go beyond selecting the first listing that shows up on Google.
There are a few key considerations that will help you find the best martial arts school for your adult needs
- Know who you are shopping for
- Know what you want to get out of training
- Learn about each school’s focus
- How much do classes cost?
- Visit the school and learn about the culture
Know Who you Are Shopping For
When searching for a martial arts school, it is important to consider who will be taking classes. In this article, we will be focusing on adult classes, but many people will search for their kids, or even for a spouse or family member.
Every school has a unique focus, and trying to sign a child up at an adult-focused establishment can lead to disaster. Similarly, trying to enroll in a family-style or child-focused academy such as our sister school, SKILLZ of Patchogue, might lead to frustration for an adult.
By finding a martial arts school that fits the age and intentions of the student, you’ve taken a great first step in finding your new home.
Know What You Want to Get Out Of classes
Assuming you are looking for a school for yourself or another adult, it is vital to consider what you hope to get out of your time on the training floor.
For example, some adults want to learn how to defend themselves. They might work in less-than-savory areas or maybe live with domestic violence. A student looking for self-defense classes wouldn’t be happy in a sport-oriented school.
We recommend taking a few minutes to think about what excited you about martial arts. And, it’s ok if you simply don’t know! Many schools will offer a free class, or even host a YouTube channel that might give you a look inside their classes. The more you know about what you want, the easier it will be to narrow down your school selection.
What Does the School Focus On?
When searching for a martial arts school, all of the different styles of martial arts can be confusing, especially when more traditional schools that include cultural aspects use words from other languages.
While many people just think there are only two options — karate and BJJ/MMA — there are thousands of styles of martial arts from dozens of different cultures. Even within a style, like karate, there can be subsystems, variations, and differing ideologies.
So, what does it all mean?
When searching for a school, be sure to look at their social media, website, and advertisements, as well as chat with a school representative to learn more about their focus.
The style being taught, while certainly important, is secondary to your goals for training. Two schools advertising “self defense” might have completely different classes, with one focusing on the fun aspect of choreography and cultural exploration, and the other working knife drills and firearms training.
By doing a bit of research, you will be able to discern what the head instructor’s vision is for his teaching time, and finding a school that matches your own goals, regardless of style, and vision can lead to a long and rewarding journey into the martial arts.
How Much Do Classes Cost?
As adults, responsible for our own bills and budgets, the question of price is an important one. In fact, one of the most common questions a martial arts school gets when the phone rings is, “How much do martial arts classes cost?“
While many instructors groan when hearing this question (we’d much rather talk about the benefits of training), it is an important one when considering a new line item on the budget.
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer, and pricing from one school to another varies widely.
There are community programs that are hosted at parks, in church basements, and in other multipurpose venues that are completely free. The benefit to these programs is the low cost and often casual atmosphere.
There are also full-time professional schools that charge $300 or more per month. The benefit of this type of martial arts school is the singular focus of the professional instructor, and often the fact that there are higher quality training areas and equipment.
In the middle are a host of other business models, from part-time schools to college courses. A good national average is between $175 and $250 per month.
The next question is: what’s included?
In addition to monthly tuition for martial arts classes, some schools will keep the monthly rate low by also having add on expenses. Things to ask about include:
- Testing fees – some schools choose to charge for rank promotions, others roll it into the monthly tuition.
- Organization fees – some schools belong to national or international organizations that charge monthly or yearly fees to “certify rank”
- Insurance fees – while most schools consider this a cost of doing business, some charge an annual fee to cover their cost.
- Additional equipment – this can range from buying a sparring gear package or uniform to monthly upsells like patches and books
- Upsell programs – some schools will have higher-level programs you can join, such as leadership classes, fitness kickboxing, Black Belt clubs, etc. In some schools, these are optional, in others, they are built into the sales process, and you will be pitched to upgrade every few months
None of these things is good or bad, they are just different business models. The key is to understand all of the costs upfront, as well as the cancellation policies, contract/membership agreement terms, etc.
While all of this can be intimidating at first, the biggest consideration is whether the value offered matches or exceeds the price being asked. While price is important, value is even more so.
Learn About the Culture
When all is said and done, and you have checked off all of the considerations above, it is vital that you remember one thing: when you train, you should feel good.
Every business has its own culture, and martial arts schools are no different.
There are dungeon dojos that smell like stale sweat and dirty feet, where the uniforms are yellowish and blood-stained because being hardcore is more important than self-care. There are schools that are crisp and clean and sterile, with a military feel. There are schools where everyone is family and students are smiling through the sweat. There are schools that adhere to strict cultural guidelines in which you will learn as much about a foreign culture as you will about self-defense. Some schools focus on tons of contact, some hardly ever spar.
Again, none of these models are wrong, but they will determine whether you enjoy your time training or not. A domestic abuse survivor may not thrive in the dungeon dojo but may do well in the family-style school where interpersonal support is a foundational concept.
Spend some time observing a class. Again, many schools offer trial classes, like the Test Drive at 4GK Martial Arts. If they do, take advantage of a few before deciding on the school that leaves you feeling good after your workout.
If you’re interested in martial arts, or you are looking for a way to take control of your life and your level of success, why not check out our Warrior Skillz program:
4GK MARTIAL ARTS
380 East Main St
Patchogue, NY 11772